How to See Satoshi’s Hashrate Using Historic Bitcoin Mining Blockchain Data


We Can See Satoshi’s Hashrate Using Historic Bitcoin Mining Data

Satoshi Nakamoto didn’t just invent bitcoin: he was also the bitcoin network’s biggest miner during the early days of the network. New research shows that we can actually identify Satoshi’s hashrate by analyzing historic bitcoin mining data.

More research was posted online this past week at OrganOfCorti.blogspot.com. In a post called “Satoshi’s Hashrate”, the author explains how historic bitcoin mining data can reveal trends showing Satoshi’s hashrate.

“With that information [bitcoin’s historic mining data recently posted online] I was able to do what I'd wanted to do since I first started mining – estimate Satoshi's hashrate. At the time I didn't realize that I would also be provided with a small window into the great man's thinking – his plan for managing his personal hashrate.”

In the post from mid-August, the author uses data to identify Satoshi’s hashrate and other surprising information about the early days of mining on the bitcoin network.

Now, all of these images you see we re-created so they could stand out and have what we like to think of as better visualizations and graphical representations that might be easier to see given the color coded pictures vs the one found on the site we referenced above.

The post builds on work by Sergio Demian Lerner, who first realized that you could use “nonce range” to identify certain miners on the bitcoin network. Yes, bitcoin miners are anonymous, but you can use certain common indicators between block reward recipients to connect different block rewards to the same miner. When you see the same miner getting a huge number of block rewards in the early days of bitcoin in 2009, you can assume it’s probably Satoshi Nakamoto:

“To simplify, in the early days of bitcoin mining when a nonce range was exhausted or when a block was solved, an “extra nonce” counter at the start of the coinbase hash would tick over. Even more simply, the “extra nonce” is a counter that can increment by time and by block height.”

What Do We Know About Satoshi’s Hashrate?

Here’s what was found about Satoshi Nakamoto’s mining activity in the latest discussion:

  • We can see Satoshi’s mining activity over time by removing the block rewards given to other miners; we can see, for example, that Satoshi mined an unusually large number of blocks between block height 0 and 20000, with less mining over time as GPU mining became more popular in July 2010
  • We can determine Satoshi’s hashrate by counting the number of blocks solved, then multiplying by the network mining difficulty at which they were solved, multiplied by 2^32 and divided by the time period being measured; this gives the average hashrate of Satoshi’s miners
  • We can use this formula to show that, at difficulty 1 and 144 blocks a day, Satoshi’s hashrate would have been about 7.16 Mhps
  • Using this calculation, we can see that Satoshi changed his hashrate four times; unlike most miners, Satoshi actually lowered his hashrate over time. Between February and June 2009, for example, Satoshi’s hashrate was 4350 khps. He lowered his hashrate to 2617 khps between June 2009 and October 2009, then lowered it again to 1011 khps between October 2009 and November 2009.
  • Does this mean Satoshi had three different computers mining bitcoin? It’s hard to tell, but Satoshi clearly had a way to change his hashrate – something you would be able to do on a more advanced miner but not on a standard client on a home PC.
  • During the first 9 months of the bitcoin network (from January to September 2009), Satoshi was mining approximately 75% of blocks on the bitcoin network
  • After October 2009, Satoshi sharply reduced the number of blocks being mined, and then eventually stopped generating new blocks altogether

Conclusion

Here’s how OrganOfCorti.com concludes the analysis:

  • “Satoshi initially followed a plan of reducing the hashrate by 1.7 Mhps every five months, but a month after the second such drop abandoned this method in favour of a continuously decreasing hashrate.
  • This implies two things: Satoshi had a hashrate plan, and that initially Satoshi had very coarse-grained control of his hashrate, but then was able to achieve a very fine grained control of the hashrate.
  • These insights may help investigators determine the sort of hardware Satoshi used, and how much control he would have had over the early client or his PC / cloud infrastructure.”

Ultimately, the mystery of Satoshi Nakamoto continues to grip the bitcoin community. However, this latest analysis shows that we can use data analysis to identify Satoshi’s mining activity during the early days of the bitcoin network – although we still don’t know what equipment Satoshi was using to mine bitcoin in 2009. You can view the complete analysis of Satoshi’s hashrate at OrganOfCorti.blogspot.com – and again big ups to them for compiling the data we used/recreated for the images!

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